All of our pet accessory collections are made from fabric that we have designed in house or sourced during our travels. In this blog post we wanted to highlight the traditional uses of African kikoy (or kikoi) fabric, the signature stripy fabric we use to make our Marine Kikoy collection.
A kikoy, sometimes called a kikoi, is a rectangular piece of woven cloth originating from Africa. Considered a part of Swahili culture, the kikoy is mostly worn by the Maasai and Kikuyu men of Kenya as well as men from Tanzania and Zanzibar. It is most commonly viewed as a type of sarong, worn wrapped around the waist. Outside of this use, kikoys are often used as baby slings, towels and head wraps. Kikoy fabrics often feature a stripe pattern, which is woven into the fabric rather than dyed. The kikoy emerged from cultural exchanges between East Africans and their trading partners from nations like Oman centuries ago.
The skill of crafting kikoy cloths has been passed down through generations and more and more people across Kenya have learnt the craft. The kikoy cloths are a valued export, and a much sought-after souvenir for visiting tourists. The process of making a traditional kikoy can be complex and therefore many factories in Kenya now produce them using a computerised production line. However, places such as the Beacon of Hope Centre are teaching men and women the age-old skill. The training centre specialises in traditional weaving methods, which they have modified to make the process faster. It takes an hour to make a kikoy - but it takes a whole day to prepare the threads so that they can be loaded onto a loom to make the fabric.
Today, kikoy can be seen all over the world. People use this fantastic textile as throws, towels, beach wear, upholstery, fashion and of course - pet accessories! You can shop our Marine Kikoy collection here.